Research in my laboratory is focused on double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)—its biological functions and the proteins that bind it to mediate these functions.
Neurons in the brain form complex neural circuits by connecting to each other through highly specialized junctions called synapses. A molecular logic underlies the formation, establishment and properties of each of these synapses and is likely driven by synaptic cell adhesion molecules. In the lab we aim to understand the protein complexes formed at these junctions and how they assemble and arrange in respect to each other in the synaptic cleft with the overall aim to understand the extracellular architecture of the synapse.
We are broadly interested in understanding atomic-sale mechanisms of how membrane proteins function under normal and diseased states.
We work with the powerful, exciting and relatively new tools of precise genome engineering, using the ZFN, TALEN and CRISPR-Cas platforms.
We are a basic research lab working on regulation of gene expression and functions of viral and cellular non-coding RNAs
Research in our group is focused on understanding the biochemical, cellular and organismal changes in metabolism that enable disease. To do this, we integrate modern techniques in mammalian genetics and mass spectrometry to study metabolic transformations in molecular detail.
We create and apply molecular tools to control and understand human health and disease. We strive to quickly share our discoveries, combining contemporary methods of directed evolution and protein engineering with classic principles of pharmacology and biochemistry.
We use yeast to study a highly conserved complex called FACT, which reorganizes nucleosomes and therefore alters the fundamental structure of chromatin.
Our lab explores how physiological signals regulate stem cell differentiation. One major focus of the lab is to study the molecular mechanisms regulating adipogenesis. To do this, we use a combination of animal models and cell culture techniques. We are particularly interested in understanding how the primary cilium, an antenna-like signaling organelle, senses and organizes signal transduction pathways to regulate stem cell fate.
In the most general sense, we aim to understand how proteins function in important biological processes by determining their structures at atomic resolution and by using complementary biochemical and biological experiments.
We use a multi-organismal approach to identify mechanisms cells use to achieve organelle homeostasis, and understand how failure to maintain organelle integrity contributes to aging and the development of age-associated diseases.
I am interested in creating accurate and compelling visualizations of molecular and cellular processes that will support research, learning and scientific communication. Molecular animations are a powerful tool for communicating important concepts to students and to members of the public. By empowering researchers to visualize what had previously been an abstract idea, these visualizations can also engender new ideas and modes of thinking.
The Kay Lab is dedicated to finding ways to combat HIV infection and other life threatening diseases. Our research sheds light on the mechanisms of enveloped viral entry and its inhibition. Through a collaboration with a local pharmaceutical company, Navigen, we hope to translate our research into the development of effective human therapeutics.
My passion is teaching metabolism from an intuitive perspective, with a strong emphasis on nutrition. My current research focuses on the outcomes of educational interventions on student performance and satisfaction.
We study how cellular machinery detects, signals, and repairs DNA damage by marrying state-of-the-art chemical biology, genetic, and biophysical techniques.
Our research focuses on how dividing cells ensure that each resulting daughter cell inherits a copy of every chromosome. We take an interdisciplinary approach that combines protein biochemistry, yeast genetics, cell biology, and biophysical approaches to understand the macromolecular machines that carry out this process.
We use a combination of animal models and cell culture techniques to understand the microenvironmental influences on tumor cell behaviour in vivo.
My laboratory is currently exploring three areas. While distinct, these programs are all centered upon cellular metabolic homeostasis—the concept that cells must constantly monitor their nutrient, metabolic and hormonal environments and adjust their behavior accordingly.
Venomous animals have evolved large libraries of bioactive compounds that are all targeted at disrupting the physiology and/or behavior of other organisms. The venoms of marine cone snails have been particularly useful because of the high diversity and specificity of peptides that potently target receptors, ion channels and transporters in prey. These molecular targets play critical roles in health and disease rendering cone snail venoms ideal sources for the discovery of pharmacological tools and therapeutics for a wide range of conditions including pain, epilepsy, stroke and autoimmune disease.
Our research centers on applying novel computational and experimental tools for the discovery of toxins with therapeutic potential. We are particularly interested in small peptide toxins that mimic endogenous receptor ligands in prey, including venom peptides involved in glucose homeostasis (e.g., venom insulins) and pain (e.g., neurotensin-like peptides).
The Shen lab uses genetics, biochemistry, and structural biology to study the mechanisms underlying protein homeostasis. We focus on using cryo-EM to visualize dynamics among multi-component protein complexes.
In my laboratory, we develop and apply diverse cellular, genetic, chemical, and biophysical tools to uncover general metabolic principles and adaptations governing the unique biology of P. falciparum parasites during infection of human red blood cells.
We study the molecular evolution of proteins in viruses and immunity, connecting the functional effects of amino acid mutations to their biophysical origins and evolutionary consequences. Through experimental and computational methods, we seek to reveal basic principles in protein biochemistry and evolution with broader implications for viral surveillance and pandemic preparedness.
We study the molecular and structural biology of retroviruses, with particular emphasis on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Major projects in the laboratory include studies of: 1) Enveloped virus assembly, 2) ESCRT pathway functions and regulation in cell division and cancer, and 3) HIV replication and restriction. Our approaches include structural studies of viral complexes, identification and biochemical analyses of the interactions between viral components and their cellular partners, and genetic analyses of viral and cellular protein functions.